The studio music teacher has played a pivotal role in the training of instrumentalists and voice students in Australia for over a century. Most professional musicians were initially taught by a studio music teacher and many studio teachers also teach at schools, music conservatoriums, and tertiary institutions. Studio teachers have practices in all States and Territories, both in cities and country areas.

The teaching of music at home or in a private studio is a cottage industry and unregulated. Anyone can set themselves up as a studio music teacher regardless of their personal training and competence. Consequently the quality of their work is variable, ranging from outstanding to very poor.

There are a number of associations which support the studio music teacher. They include specific instrument associations such as:

  • Accompanists’ Guilds (NSW1 and South Australia2)
  • ANATS –Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing3
  • AUSTA – Australian Strings Association4
  • Flute Societies – see directory under The Australian Flute Society5
  • Reed and double reed associations6
  • Brass associations.

The Suzuki Association7 also caters for the training and professional development of Suzuki teachers.

Role of the Music Teachers Associations

The studio music teacher has also had the support of Music Teachers Associations (MTAs) in each State and in the Northern Territory (see details in the next section). The associations in the five mainland States date back to between 1911 and 1930.

The MTAs are made up of dedicated volunteer studio teachers who provide an important role in improving the quality and status of the profession. They offer:

  • Membership accreditation based on qualifications, experience and referees
  • Recommended fees
  • The provision of professional development
  • The provision of teacher training in the various institutions
  • A registry of accredited teachers
  • Cooperative national work

The websites of the five mainland State MTAs provide directory information on how to search for teachers, information for members, accreditation information, events and courses, and references to MTA journals, newsletters and directories. Three MTAs show approximate number of members: Victoria currently 950, Queensland almost 800, and South Australia 330.

The statistical knowledge base paper on Musicians in the Census8 provides some perspective on these numbers. Long-term, the number of private music teachers has increased at a faster rate than the number of musicians, but their average income is lower (try searching for ‘music teachers’ in the statistical paper to gain a quick impression).

Comparison with the number of MTA members above at first glance suggests that they comprise roughly 40-50% of all private music teachers counted in the Census (see Table 1.2.10 in the statistics appended to Musicians in the Census). This partly reflects the difference between accredited studio teachers and all those calling themselves private music teachers, but definitional issues in the Census (‘main occupation last week’), and because not all MTA members are practising studio music teachers.

If further research could identify those accredited members that are, we would get closer to a true comparison with Census data. Furthermore, the 1996 Census results are starting to emerge.

Cooperative National Work

In the past attempts have been made to form a national association which would register and accredit studio teachers. The National Institute of Music Teachers was formed but no longer exists. Since 2004 the MTAs have met to discuss issues pertinent to their associations. They have elected not to support the development of another national institute but to share information and identify issues relevant to each of the MTAs. Current issues include:

  1. The development of standards. The Australian Society for Music Education (ASME)9 has been developing standards for music teachers in schools and it has been proposed that work commence on standards for studio teachers
  2. Introduction of police checks / Working with Children permits
  3. The variable quality of some practising teachers in each State
  4. Differences from State to State in relation to accreditation and fees
  5. Issues in the provision of tertiary training for the studio music teacher.

State and Territory MTAs

Information regarding each of the Music Teachers Associations is provided below. Summarising what is available on mainland State MTA websites, each shows current key contact, welcome, history and objectives (‘about us’ web pages), number of branches, teacher search facilities and/or teacher directories, information on membership and accreditation, relevant events and courses, and references to a newsletters and journals for members. Most mainland State websites also have lists of potentially useful links to other organisations.

Compared to the five mainland States, the website for the Tasmanian MTA is less detailed, while the Australian Capital Territory is represented as a branch of the NSW MTA, and only an email address is available for the Northern Territory MTA. Music. Play for Life10 notes: “There are yet very few online resources for finding music teachers in the Northern Territory. Hopefully this will improve!” The MPFL pages also contain comprehensive references on how to find music teachers in each State and Territory.11

The following information, including current activities in 2007, was supplied for this article by each MTA (two of them supplied mission or general purpose statements which are illustrative of other MTAs as well). The information also listed current office holders and addresses but it is more appropriate to consult each MTA website for up-to-date contact details and main identities.

New South Wales

The Music Teachers Association of New South Wales12 has eight membership categories:

  • Full Membership
  • Full Membership (Country)
  • Associate Membership
  • Associate Membership (Country)
  • Contemporary Membership
  • Student Membership
  • Mailing List Subscription
  • International Membership.

Accreditation: Membership is available for performers and teachers. Evidence of music qualifications and successful teaching is required. The category of contemporary/jazz and popular music requirements is more flexible.

Publications: The Studio gives details of all events held in NSW including the Junior Music Festivals, various workshops and social events.

Sponsorship: MTA NSW is sponsoring two awards totalling $2,000 in the 2008 Sydney International Piano Competition ($500 for commissioned work, $1500 for encouragement award).

Professional Development:

  • Two-day Conference: Empower Your Teaching (2007)
  • Junior Music Festivals held in various locations throughout Sydney and Country New South Wales
  • Improvisation for classically trained pianists.

Benevolent Fund: Fees paid for country teachers to attend Empower your Teaching, to support country members affected by drought.

Advanced Diploma of Music: The Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and MTA NSW have reached an agreement regarding the Advanced Diploma in Music offered by the Wollongong Conservatorium and especially designed for private music teachers to gain a qualification in pedagogy.


The mission of the Victorian Music Teachers Association (Inc)13 is to “foster excellence in the teaching of instrumental and vocal music in the State of Victoria through the provision of Registration standards; attendance at high level professional development opportunities provided by the Association; collegial support from the Association; the publication of Journals and Newsletters; and the public listings of registered teachers.”

Membership categories: Fully Accredited, Provisional, Associate Teacher, and Student. Register of members available on website.

Publications: Journal – Music and The Teacher (twice a year), Newsletter five each year.

Professional development: (recitals/lectures/masterclasses/seminars):

  • Bi-annual Summer School (4 days)
  • Diploma Masterclasses (4)
  • Visiting artists (Jean-Paul Sevilla)
  • Clifford lecture, masterclass, and recital
  • Victorian Certificate of Education Seminar and masterclass
  • Piano Day: “The Integration of Musicality and Technique for AMEB Level 1”14
  • November: End of year celebration


The Queensland Music Teachers Association15 has six membership categories: New teaching member, Teaching member, Friend member, Student member, and Journal only.

In addition to the Brisbane head office, there are eight Queensland branches16 ranging from Cairns in the north to Gold Coast in the south, reflecting the decentralised nature of the State.

Publication: Circulation of three Bravura magazines a year (800 printed)


  • Queensland Vocal Competition 2007 – 7th Annual Competition in May held at Lourdes Hill College (84 entrants)
  • Queensland Piano Competition 2007 – 15th Annual Competition in September to be held at the Queensland Conservatorium
  • QPC Toowoomba Heats to be held once again in this region in September 2007
  • Student Performance Society Concert. Three planned per year
  • Allan Lane Memorial weekend, 29th and 30th June 2008 to be held in Townsville
  • Professional development workshops (free to members)
  • Piano Play, November 2006 (John Colwill)
  • Music Games, February 2007 (Sue Thompson)
  • Theory – Melody Writing, February 2007 (Ken Campbell)
  • Accompanying Workshop – ‘Am I too Loud’ July 2007 (Rita Miles)
  • General care and maintenance of the piano, September 2007
  • Taubman Approach, October 2007 (Therese Milanovic)
  • 85th Anniversary dinner in June 2006.

South Australia

The South Australian Music Teachers Association,17 with a membership of 330 and rising, has four membership categories: Full, General, Associate, and Student.

Professional Development Days 2007:

  • Summer School January 16/17/18
  • First Aid April 16 at CEASA (Council of Educational Associations of South Australia) – Full18
  • Kingston SE Country Workshop
  • Wilmington Flinders Ranges Country
  • Technology for the Studio Teacher July 20 Woodville High School
  • “Together We Learn” – October 9 (emphasis on young students & young teachers – MTASA Chorale.

Performance opportunities include Concert Performance days and SACE (years 11 and 12) performances19

Competitions (at Home Studio 35a Orlando Ave, Hampstead Gardens; details on website):

  • Miriam Hyde Awards – Junior & Open
  • George Pearce Prize – Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB)
  • Reimann-Robinson Scholarship
  • Norman Sellick Prize
  • MTASA/Grace Barbara Turner Awards for Keyboard, Strings, Wind & Voice at the Adelaide Eisteddfod.


  • The Music Stand (newsletter/journal; six issues per annum) which has radically improved over the past few years – including at least one solid article in each issue
  • MTASA Directory of Music Teachers (annual).

Lobbying/Advocacy on behalf of Music Education – in particular studio teaching re:

  • Equitable fees
  • Music education in general in schools
  • Training for Studio Teachers in SA (none since Flinders Street School of Music was absorbed into the Conservatorium in 2002)
  • Training for Lower Primary School Music teaching- classroom teachers & music specialists (classroom music not compulsory in SA schools)

MTASA Affiliates (Societies of performers/teachers who advertise in the MTASA Handbook). Sponsors – 19 including affiliates.

Western Australia

The West Australian Music Teachers Association (Inc)20 is the oldest professional association of private music teachers in Australia. It exists solely for the benefit of members and endeavours to safeguard conditions and general aspects of studio music teaching. It provides services for teachers and the general public and is a non-profit organisation, run by a council of volunteers, including metropolitan, country and student representatives. See WAMTA’s ‘welcome’ page21 for a summary of membership benefits and other activities.

Newsletter: Monthly Music Teachers’ Bulletin, informing teachers of events.

Protection of children: The Working with Children check is now compulsory, endorsed by the Government as law. Teachers are required to have their WWC number registered with the Association.

Membership categories: Not ascertained.

Accreditation courses by correspondence: The Association runs courses which cover teaching principles, aural training, rudiments and elementary harmony, history of music.

Events/professional development/performances:

  • Recital and Concerto Competition
  • WA Piano Pedagogy Convention (3 days)

Professional Development: For a 2007 list of professional seminars organised by WAMTA, see AMEB WA’s Music Teachers’ Handbook, p 13.22

  • The road less travelled with Valerie Lang (AMEB Manual Lists were presented and discussed)
  • Dalcroze workshop with Joan Pope (2006)23
  • Piano masterclass/workshop for the early grades 1-3, with Valerie Lang
  • Hear and play with Heather Brittan
  • Music craft: Let’s do it together, with Heather Brittan
  • Music technology workshop with Rupert Sherwood.

Student Forum: Performance opportunities for young students (of MTA teachers) to play in public. Held from March to November, first Saturday of month.

Sponsorship: Keyed Up – four piano recitals organised by the University of WA School of Music. The biennial event is also funded by the WA Piano Pedagogy Convention.24


The Tasmanian Music Teachers Association25 provides a range of worthwhile musical experiences and opportunities for its members. The Association seeks to assist its members through:

  • professional development activities
  • practical demonstrations
  • product information workshops
  • instrumental and vocal master classes for all levels.

TMTA has three branches: Southern Tasmania, Northern Tasmania, and North West Tasmania. It maintains a register of qualified members, and offers a referral service to the public. Teachers must meet strict criteria in order to become a member of the Association.

There are three levels of membership: Senior Registered, Registered, and Associate.

Students of members are eligible for TMTA Awards, and are able to participate in many music-making activities organised by the Association including workshops, master classes, competitions and concerts.

Publications: Annual journal, and newsletters.

Professional Development and performance:

  • Dalcroze day joined with AGM
  • Outside the square – looking at not the usual repertoire
  • Technology – look at ‘YouTube’ in particular Rachmaninoff Prelude in C sharp minor
  • Jean-Paul Sevilla lecture demonstration
  • Pedagogy – Listen to your hands (Will Coyle)
  • TMTA Piano competitions
  • TMTA awards – AMEB and music stores supply sponsorship.

Northern Territory

Contact President Jill Kuhn for information.26

Summary of Some Courses Available for Private Music Teachers

Listed in a pdf file.27


Dr Anne Lierse Last updated: 19 September 2007


  1. http://www.accompanistsguildofnsw.org.au/↩︎
  2. http://accompanist.org.au/about-the-guild/↩︎
  3. http://www.anats.org.au/↩︎
  4. http://www.austa.asn.au/↩︎
  5. http://www.australianflutesociety.org.au/new/societies.html↩︎
  6. http://www.adrs.org.au/adrs.htm↩︎
  7. http://www.suzukimusic.org.au/↩︎
  8. http://www.mca.org.au/web/index.php?option=com_kb&task=article&article=79↩︎
  9. http://www.asme.edu.au/↩︎
  10. http://www.mca.org.au/index.php?id=220↩︎
  11. http://www.mca.org.au/index.php?id=18↩︎
  12. http://www.musicnsw.com.au/↩︎
  13. http://www.vmta.org.au/↩︎
  14. http://www.vmta.org.au/Piano_day.htm↩︎
  15. http://www.mtaq.org.au/↩︎
  16. http://www.mtaq.org.au/Branches1.htm↩︎
  17. http://www.mtasa.asn.au/↩︎
  18. http://www.ceasa.asn.au/↩︎
  19. http://www.mtasa.asn.au/Calendar.html↩︎
  20. http://www.musicteacherswa.org.au/↩︎
  21. http://www.musicteacherswa.org.au/default.aspx↩︎
  22. http://ameb.uwa.edu.au/__data/page/88907/2007_WA_Teachers_Handbook.pdf↩︎
  23. http://www.uwa.edu.au/__data/page/88907/2006_AMEB%28WA%29_Teachers_Handbook.pdf↩︎
  24. Briefly described in http://www.artsedge.dca.wa.gov.au/documents/enewsinfo_000.doc, page 8↩︎
  25. http://www.webangels.com.au/ss/tmta/↩︎
  26. jill.kuhn@bigpond.com.au↩︎
  27. http://mcakb.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/courses-for-pmts.pdf↩︎

Director of Music, Melbourne High School; private studio teacher

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